Did U.K. Journalists Use E-mail Viruses to Steal Personal Info?

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Two sex-life bloggers believe they may have been victims of computer hacking attempts by journalists at newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch.

As the U.K. scandal enveloping politics, police corruption and journalism ethics grows wider and becomes ever more serious for media tycoon
Murdoch, these latest accusations suggest that the hacking of private communications went way beyond simple interception of voicemail messages.

(MORE: Embattled News of the World Publishes Final Issue)

In a conversation on Twitter, the two bloggers – Zoe Margolis, author of Girl With a One Track Mind, and Brooke Magnanti, author of the infamous Belle de Jour blog – revealed that they had both received emails from journalists at the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times.

Those emails arrived with brief messages and suspicious looking attachments, which the women suspect may have contained malware designed to reveal their identities and possibly gain access to their computers.

In a blog post, Magnanti makes her feelings clear:

“In the wake of accusations surrounding not only News of the World but other NI papers as well, it’s something to keep in mind. It’s not just a phone that can be hacked. Have other routes of invasion even been investigated at all? And it is, to my mind, probably likely to have happened to loads of people. People who may not have spotted an attempt to invade their computers. People whose personal information may have been at risk.”

Her post, she stresses, isn’t a complaint, but a warning to others.

Mr. Murdoch’s media empire has already suffered enormous damage following a week of unbelievable revelations, and every day there are more. But if the bloggers’ suspicions are proven correct, and the hacking attempts involved the sort of techniques used by criminals to gain access to ordinary people’s bank accounts, the additional damage will be an order of magnitude greater.

If there’s one good thing to emerge from the phone hacking scandal and from wider coverage of other security alerts, particularly the antics of groups like Anonymous and LulzSec, it’ll be wider public awareness of online security.

The internet has never been a particularly safe place to store or discuss secrets, but it’s only in the last few months that there have been sufficient security scares to make people sit up and take notice. Be careful out there.

MORE: Anonymous Warns NATO: This is no Longer Your World

[via Graham Cluley at Sophos]